LEXINGTON, KY — A spokesman for a group opposed to sports wagering rang alarm bells today about how lawmakers wanting to expand gambling in the state plan to regulate it. “Proponents of sports wagering in the Kentucky General Assembly want to put a fox in charge of the sports wagering hen house,” said Martin Cothran, spokesman for the group.
Cothran criticized the plan to place the state’s Horse Racing Commission in charge of sports wagering. “Their plan is to put the very group that was recently exposed for its careless and corrupt practices regulating horse racing in charge of sports wagering. This a recipe for corruption.”
“Anyone who wants to know how the Commission operates need only read a recent story by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting,” he said. The Center found that when an outside testing company was hired to assure that the “historic racing” machines (now populating several gambling parlors run by tracks) were on the up-and-up, the Commission “let the tracks themselves fund and oversee the consultant’s work.”
According to the report, the Commission “didn’t even have copies of the invoices from New Jersey-based Gaming Laboratories International until it gathered them for the auditor,” said the report. The contracts involved nearly $900,000.
“The industry that is supposed to be regulated is buying its own regulator,” one former Assistant U.S. Attorney told the Center.
“The Horse Racing Commission was letting the industry it was supposed to be regulating, regulate itself. And this is the entity these lawmakers want to put in charge of sports wagering. The Racing Commission isn’t even subject to the State’s ethics laws. Surely this is some bad joke.”
Cothran said the chairman of the Commission is a horse breeder. The vice chair is the former president of a racing park. Others are consultants, owners, officers and employees of horse farms or race tracks. “Many of them stand to financially benefit from the decisions made by the Commission.”